What is swing sequence and why is it important?

I often here and read about swing sequence and its importance to producing predictable golf shots and distance but what does it actually mean and why is it important?

In this article I will aim to explain swing sequence and what we can learn about its role in producing predictable shots and how it can contribute to increased distance.

 First of all, it is important to define what is meant by swing sequence. When discussing swing sequence we are describing the sequence segments of the body move in the transition phase of the golf swing from backswing to downswing.

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Similar to throwing-based sports, in golf, ideal segmental sequencing would occur from the proximal to distal segments. In this discussion the most proximal (closest to the centre of the body) segment is the pelvis and the most distal segment is the golf club. Therefore ideal sequencing in the downswing would be pelvis - thorax - club for effective energy transfer from segment to segment. Good proximal to distal sequencing is essential in allowing maximum possible distal (club head) speed.

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With the aid of modern 3D measuring devices, we are now able to measure this sequence to better understand what is happening globally within a swing movement. An example of two players' transition sequences from my Bull3D system can be seen below. The first segment to move in transition is labelled as 1 and the last segment to move labelled as 3. Player 1 has a club head speed of 83 MPH with a 6 iron and Player 2 a 6 iron club head speed of 77 MPH.

Player 1 - Ideal transition sequence - Pelvis 1 - Thorax 2 - Club 3

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Player 2 - transition sequence - Club 1 - Pelvis 2 - Thorax 3

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Peak Order

Understanding the transition order/sequence of segments is important as it shows how energy is moving through the system in the transition phase of the golf swing. When looking to understand speed generation it is also important to know the order in which the segments achieve their peak speed in transition. Like the transitions sequence, the order in which the segments achieve their peak speed is essential in allowing maximum distal (club head) speed and will ideally move from the proximal to distal segment Pelvis 1 - Thorax 2 - Club 3. Player 1 and Player 2's Peak Orders observed on my Bull 3D system can be seen below:

Player 1 - (6 iron club head speed - 83 MPH)

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Player 2 - (6 iron club head speed - 77 MPH)

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Segment lags

In taking a more detailed look at how players produce club head speed we can now also capture the time difference between when the peak speeds occur at each segment, these are known as segment lags. Research has shown that between 25-40ms is the ideal time differential between each segment as this provides sufficient time for the energy to move to the next segment and not too much time that would then result in the energy being retained in the most proximal segment (Mark Bull 2018). Below is an example of Player 2 compared to another player (Player 3) both have good transition sequence and peak order but we see that player 3 has a faster club head speed, partly due to improved segment lags. 

Player 2 - (6 iron club head speed 83 MPH)

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Player 3 - (6 iron club head speed 87 MPH)

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Swing sequence, peak order and segmental lags are very useful information in helping generate a better picture of what is happening in the global swing movement of a player however the question is often what is causing the segments to behave in this manner and therefore the area of focus to improve.

The Bull 3D system is an amazing teaching tool and helps me as a coach understand a player's ability to control segments, co-ordinate movement, understand the task and control posture.

The data that I have shared today is only a very small insight into the information that can be obtained from the Bull 3D system to help learn more about this great game. I look forward to sharing more of the system's capabilities over the coming months and if you have any questions on my observations, please post them to the group.